VISITING Amesbury’s new museum is about to get easier after it received a grant of more than £13,000.
Currently the museum, housed in Melor Hall, is only open on Wednesdays and for special events.
But the £13,139 funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Grant Scheme will enable the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust to take over custodianship of the hall and open the museum on a permanent basis.
Since last June the trust has been renting the hall hourly, with exhibits and displays being put away each week.
Now they can stay in place, allowing bigger displays and longer opening hours.
Chairman and founder of the trust Andy Rhind-Tutt said: “The news of this grant is wonderful for the trust, volunteers and community as it will help us in so many ways. “Having to rent the building for just four hours a week has meant a high hourly cost, weekly setting up of displays and, occasionally, with other bookings taken for the hall, the building has had to be cleared of furniture.
“To be able to take full custodianship will allow us to refurbish the building, put up permanent displays and, more importantly, open for longer hours and more days.”
The museum tells the story of Amesbury’s past dating back to the Mesolithic era, with exhibits including flints excavated at Vespasian’s Camp on the outskirts of the town.
There are also displays about Amesbury’s royal connections and more recent history, along with a coffee shop and stall selling souvenirs.
It is hoped that eventually property developers working in Amesbury will fund a purpose-built museum on the site but in the meantime the trust is hoping to increase visitor numbers to its existing exhibition.
It intends to apply for designated museum status and market itself as having one of the largest and most significant Mesolithic collections in the country.
“This will lift Amesbury into a new dimension,” added Mr Rhind-Tutt. The application for the funding was fully supported by the Wiltshire Community Covenant, a partnership including Wiltshire Council, 43 Wessex Brigade and local businesses and organisations.
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said: “This funding is fantastic news for Amesbury. This museum brings the community together and highlights the rich military heritage of the town.”
Applications can be made for the next round of community covenant grants before February 4, at wiltshire.gov.uk/militarycivilianintegrationpartnership.